SBJ/November 10 - 16, 2003/Marketingsponsorship
Bribe trial notes USOC sponsor’s $130K donation
Published November 10, 2003
U.S. Olympic team sponsor Jet Set Sports, an Olympic hospitality and ticket packager, quickly fell into the spotlight amid opening statements by the prosecution as the federal trial of Salt Lake Olympic bid executives Tom Welch and David Johnson began. The two are charged with 15 counts of bribery and racketeering stemming from their mid-1990s campaign to bring the Games to Utah.
Jet Set founder Sead Dizdarevic declined a request by this publication to explain why his company contributed $130,000 — an amount specified in court by federal prosecutor John Scott — to the bid effort in 1994 and '95. A Dizdarevic assistant, replying by e-mail, wrote: "It is inappropriate for him to talk about it, the trial is in process."
Dizdarevic was long ago granted government immunity for his testimony to the Justice Department. The case went to trial in Salt Lake City late last month after three years of legal maneuvering.
Prosecutors will try to convince a jury that the money, never recorded in the bid's budget, was used as part of a stealth campaign to buy votes of International Olympic Committee members.
For Jet Set, $130,000 was a modest investment that has yielded healthy returns. By 2000, Jet Set had become a U.S. sponsor and, as such, official hospitality packager of the 2002 Salt Lake Games. It has since extended its U.S. deal through 2012, and also has a separate deal with Greek officials as one of the sponsors of the Athens 2004 Games.
Steve Woodward is a writer in Illinois.